Explosion in Beirut

image: ShelterBox response in Lebanon following conflict in 2013

Beirut, Lebanon Explosion

Effects of the Beirut explosion: What we know so far

The explosion near the Port of Beirut affected many neighbourhoods across Greater Beirut – including several communities with migrant workers and refugee communities. Lebanon has the highest per capita refugee population in the worlds – approximately 30% of the population are refugees.

It is estimated that up to 300,000 people cannot currently live in their homes due to the blast. More thant 47,000 apartments were damaged. 178 people were killed by the blast and 6000 were injured.

Some households are likely to be displaced for a month, while others are expected to be displaced much longer. The Qarantina district is likely to take up to a year before being able to return. The high cost of repairs may mean that the most vulnerable families may be without a home for a long period of time – or be forced to live in a hazardous environment without water or electricity.

What else is happening in Beirut?

Prior to the blast, Lebanon was experiencing an economic crisis and political turmoil.

The government stepped down on August 10th, but protests continue and the situation remains volatile

Lebanon also experienced a surge in coronavirus cases prior to the blast, a situation that will only worsen. Six major hospitals and 20 clinics were damaged in the blast.

Is ShelterBox Responding?

ShelterBox operations staff continues to closely monitor the situation and the needs of those affected by the blast. Teams have also been in contact with Rotary District 2452 and have been in discussions with the president of the Rotary Club of Beirut Cedars.

Currently, the need in Beirut is unclear. Although the damage is extensive, many families are currently sheltering with relatives, friends, and neighbours. Shelter options like our family-sized tents are not likely to be the right solution for families in a dense urban setting like this. Most shelter requests so far have been for doors and windows.

There are however multiple locations and circumstances to consider. Some families are predicted to only be displaced for a short period of time, other for much longer. Different communities, such as refugees, migrant workers, and other vulnerable populations may have fewer options for alternative shelter. Many migrant workers have been abandoned by the families that hired them, and many Syrian refugees could have their need deprioritized as so many locals are in need of support. We are still collecting information and details to better understand the needs of these populations. If there is a role for ShelterBox, we are ready to respond thanks to your ongoing support.

Affected blast area
A family in Lebanon receiving aid in 2013

Currently, there is an in-country response happening from local government and agencies already active in Lebanon. It is important that this immediate process is not hindered. With the Port of Beirut completely destroyed it is vital to prevent airports and other ports from clogging up. It is important that ShelterBox take time to completely understand the situation and the needs before sending aid as this could slow down other processes that are currently underway.

This is something our teams have seen first-hand in past responses. Ports begin getting hundreds of cargo ships carrying items that are not immediately useful. After Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas, ports were getting clogged up with shipments of donated bathing suits. This meant that shipments of food, water, and shelter took longer to reach families in need. Ships need to be cleared and warehouses need to be emptied before more shipments can arrive at a destination. It is an unfortunate situation, and since the main port in Lebanon has been destroyed, it is vital that we have a very clear understanding of needs before any aid items are sent. It is very complex situation.

ShelterBox Needs Your Support

Donate today to help vulnerable families in urgent need of shelter

Coronavirus has complicated responses and how aid is delivered. But emergency shelter is still getting to families who need it the most. Your support enables this vital aid to get to families despite all the complications caused worldwide by the pandemic. Donate today to continue supporting this emergency support.

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